General Lab Safety Practices

The following are general guidelines for all laboratories and creative spaces. Contact [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

Eating and Drinking

Eating, drinking, and the application of cosmetics are prohibited in areas where hazardous materials (chemicals, radioactive materials, biohazards) are used. Food must not be stored in the laboratory with hazardous materials. Refrigerators, freezers, and microwaves used for research materials or other potentially hazardous samples must bear a sign indicating that no food storage is allowed.

Unauthorized Personnel 

Unauthorized personnel including minors, visitors, and pets must be restricted from the lab for security and safety reasons. 


Exits, aisles, and safety equipment must not be obstructed. Work areas and floors are not to be used for excessive storage. Items must be stored below 24 inches of the ceiling or 18 inches of the sprinkler head in areas with sprinklers. Hallways are not to be used as storage areas. Hallways and aisleways must be kept clear for ease of egress. Contact Materials Management for pick-up of surplus property.


Laboratories with hazardous materials shall have required signage on the entry doors. EHS works with labs to identify and post the needed signage. Equipment and containers used with radioactive material or biohazardous materials shall be labeled in accordance with the SDSU Radiation Safety Program or SDSU Biosafety Program, respectively. All chemical containers must be labeled with the proper chemical name and hazard (i.e. corrosive, flammable). All secondary and temporary containers must be clearly labeled with at least the name of the chemical (no abbreviations) and the hazard. Containers of water must also be labeled. See the Chemical Hygiene Plan for more detail.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (gloves, lab coat, safety glasses, etc.) along with appropriate laboratory attire (closed-toe shoes, pants, etc.) must be worn when working with hazardous materials. PPE must be selected based on the following, including but not limited to, Safety Data Sheets of the hazardous materials, hazard assessment, ANSI certification, manufacturer’s Chemical Resistance Guide, and Standard Operating Procedures

Gloves/Hand Washing

Gloves must be worn when working with hazardous materials. Glove material (e.g. latex, nitrile, butyl rubber) must be selected based on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of the hazardous materials, and Chemical Resistance Guide of the glove manufacturer.  Gloves worn must be the correct size. Gloves must be removed before leaving the lab, before working in areas free of hazardous materials within the lab, and must be changed out frequently or when suspected to be contaminated. Do not reuse disposable gloves.

Hands must be washed with soap and water frequently throughout the day. Hands must be washed after handling any hazardous materials, after removal of gloves, and before leaving the laboratory.

Hand Sinks

A hand sink including soap and paper towel from a dispenser must be available in each laboratory facility and must be accessible to research personnel.

Fume Hoods and Biosafety Cabinets

Chemical fume hoods and biosafety cabinets are common equipment in laboratories.

Environmental Health and Safety manages annual certifications for all campus fume hoods. Submit a Work Order to Facilities Services to report a continuous alarming fume hood due to inadequate or no flow into the hood. 

Environmental Health and Safety does not manage annual certifications for biosafety cabinets. EHS recommends TSS for biosafety cabinet services, including annual certification and decontamination. 

Emergency Eyewash/Safety Showers

All laboratories where laboratory personnel may be exposed to corrosive, severely irritating, or toxic chemicals must have an emergency eyewash and shower station. Labs working with biohazardous materials must have at minimum, an eyewash station within the laboratory. Facilities Services conducts monthly flushes of eyewash stations and safety showers. Submit a work order to report an eyewash/safety shower in need of a monthly flush.

Fire Extinguishers

All laboratories must have a working fire extinguisher within the lab and all personnel must know where it is located and how to use them. Submit a work order to request a fire extinguisher replacement.

Electrical Safety

Electrical safety is the responsibility of all occupants of the laboratory. Electrical panels must have 3 feet of unobstructed clearance. Receptacle outlets must not be overloaded, and extension cords can only be used on a temporary basis.